June 26, 2010

USA v. Ghana preview

Preview of the USA vs. Ghana match
Below is ESPN's take on how the United States should tactically approach The Black Stars this afternoon in the round of sixteen match:

Now, lets hurry up this preview blog, so that I don't miss the pre-game show. That starts in about 25 minutes from now, won't cross that previous phrase out, waste of time.

Well, it's practically been said. The US have done it. Pulled off an incredible literally, last minute, victory over Algeria and with Landon Donovan's shot sent the team from hard failure to instant success as the Group C champions. History involved, this is the first time the United States has won their group since the lightly-attended 1930 World Cup in Uruguay.

In modern times, anytime that the Stars and Stripes have advanced beyond the group stage its usually been close race for second. Often too close for comfort. Actually in the 1994 World Cup, which they hosted, they came in third in their group. But since the field was only 24 teams during that time, they had a good enough third-place record to advance.

To say it a more simpler perspective, the USA have done their best in group stage, though granted, this was probably the least challenging group...on paper. On the field, it was a fight for their points, but they went undefeated in the group, outscored England, and now Ghana awaits them.

Bit of history, but in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the USA needed a win against Ghana to qualify for the knockout round. They lost 2-1. Revenge? The players don't say so, only a select few veterans from the hapless 2006 squad are in South Africa.

What's at stake

What's at stake for USA: They are truly given a golden opportunity. The USA, though they're very capable of losing to Ghana and Uruguay, have a chance to beat both of them to advance to the semi-finals. That'd be their first time since 1930, and their best in modern times. It would further ignite the nation into a soccer-frenzy world. More so than the stellar 2002 quarterfinals run...or the 2009 Confederations Cup finals run...combined.
What's at stake for Ghana: Ghana's the last of their kind. In the debutant World Cup to African soil, all the other African nations (including the host South Africa), are eliminated and have gone back home. The Black Stars were the only nation to advance past group stage. A sense of pride (or maybe) a burden lies on them to do well. If Ghana wins against the USA today, it'd be the third time in World Cup history an African nation advanced to the quarterfinals. Cameroon did it in 1990 and more recently, Senegal in 2002.

Tactics to the game

USA: The USA cannot give up an early goal. They need to play strong throughout the whole game, and cannot play fight back the whole time. Cause that might not work. Play physical and take their passing to their advantage. The US midfield is excellent at passing, and fishing balls out to the wings, as well as navigating through plugged areas. Defense cannot make stupid mistakes to allow an early goal.
Ghana: Weather the counterattack. If there's any team in the World Cup that's incredibly dangerous on the counterattack, it's the USA. Ghana's defense must respond fast, and be alert for any interception in the midfield the USA makes. They need to go out and penetrate fast and early, but they cannot let up. As we saw with Slovenia, when they did that...well...if it wasn't for the ref they would have blown their lead. Ghana cannot do that and completely humiliate themselves.

About the Author

Tyler Walter

Author & Editor

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